Saturday, December 1, 2012

a month of meals

i've either entered the nesting phase or have WAY too much time on my hands.  however, i have read on quite a few blogs lately and talked with a few friends...apparently planning meals out and doing the shopping for a month of dinners is a money saver/time saver.  i already spend very little on groceries, but lately we have been going over our budget.  mostly, because with this pregnancy comes pregnancy brain, morning sickness, and "ohmygodiamsotired i can't even make a sandwich". it all leads to eating out more and/or prepackaged dinners bought at the last minute. both not all that delicious.
also, i think by not really planning out snacks and lunches and times that i can't bear to prepare food, i end up leaving myself with a kitchen with no back up plan.  supermom isn't making as many appearances these days. hence, the frozen pizza and ravioli on my grocery list.
so....i went down the road of crazy and planned a month of meals. feel free to poach any or all of these for your own planning purposes.
a few things... this plan took me about an hour to do.  i stuck with mostly staple dinners and threw a couple of new recipes in there. i typically have a pretty well stocked pantry so i just needed to replace a few items.  it may vary based on your pantry. the meat, frozen food, and pantry items will be purchased once this month.  some of the produce that keeps well, like carrots, potatoes, onions, and sugar snap peas, will be purchased once. the same with the dairy...some like shredded cheese i can buy once and freeze or some like buttermilk have a long shelf life. otherwise, i will (of course) be making small, short trips to the store weekly based on what perishables i need to stock up on. or telling mike to do it. finally, i  did 26 dinners instead of 31 to allow room for leftovers and the holidays.  also, i will be picking 4 - 6 dinners from the list weekly to make instead of planning every single night of the month. the bulk of my shopping is done at costco, aldi, and fareway.

here is the meal plan:

cut veggies + dip (ranch seasoning with yogurt)
quick bread gone healthy (check pinterest)
granola + yogurt
bean dip
hard boiled eggs
cottage cheese
smoothies (i just buy a bunch of cheap frozen fruit and wing it)
granola bars ( we love these nature valley brand protein bars they sell at costco)
goldfish crackers (i'm succumbing)

grilled cheese
noodles or cheese ravioli

whole wheat pancakes
french toast
eggs + breakfast meat
biscuits + gravy (clearly reserved for the weekend. i'm not that much of a fatty.)

1. crockpot chile colorado burritos with rice
2. chili rellano casserole
3. lasagna with salad
4. crockpot chili
5. crockpot beef stroganoff with salad
6. beef satay with ramen in peanut ginger sauce
7. baked sausages with apples, onions, and potatoes
8. italian sausage meatball sandwiches with salad
9. sloppy joes with baked fries and cut veggies
10. baked penne with salad
11. crockpot stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes
12. sausage, bean, and kale stew
13. (venison) steak salad with tomatoes, onion, and bleu cheese
14. tuna noodle casserole with salad
15. venison roast with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots
16. shepard's pie (with leftover roast & potatoes from #15)
17. crockpot korean ribs with rice and braised cabbage
18. baked sausages with colcannon + applesauce (use cabbage from #17 for colcannon)
19. greek burgers with pita, cukes, tomatoes, feta, and onion
20. sausages with latkes + applesauce
21. braised short ribs with polenta and roasted veg (christmas dinner?)
22. venison enchiladas with rice
23. crockpot chili
24. baked fried chicken drumsticks with rainbow salad
25. macaroni + cheese
26. black eyed peas with leeks and kielbasa and cornbread (new years eve)

so far, i have spent about $100 - 150 less than i typically would for the whole month. we shall see how the rest of the month goes...i will give updates.  also, let me know if you all try this or already do it.  i'd love to hear your thoughts.  so far, i really like having a fully stocked kitchen with all the ingredients to make over half of these meals. now if only we could get a massive snow storm...
check out january's month of meals plan and to read more about what i learned by planning dinner out for a whole month!


  1. I just discovered your blog, LOVE! keep it comin; :) Jessica

  2. I tried the beef satay with ramen in peanut ginger sauce and thought it was "meh." It was the peanut sauce. I kept adding a little more of this or that, but it didn't improve it. I have two or three other recipes for peanut sauce, all of which I think would be better. Maybe if I try one of those it will make it to my meal rotation.

    It's interesting to see what others include in their meal plans.

  3. thanks for the comment, sally. the beef satay is a new recipe i am trying this month. we'll see how the family likes it. have a good day!

  4. Great post! Started following your blog after your recipe for the braised short ribs showed up on Dinner a love story. The white bean stew with sausage and kale has showed up many times at this house! :-) I have always wanted to try planning meals for a month just never seems to work out. Love too see how this works for you! Keep up the great blog!

  5. love this concept- on a monthly meal plan- with built-in flexibility... for all of reasons you've mentioned and more.

    the only time i've done anything similar is when i followed (loosely) a monthly meal plan from 'real simple'. so many benefits, and i can't believe i haven't done it again.

    i'm saving this so that i can dig into the recipes- and i am definitely going to create a plan of my own.

    thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. Thanks for sharing all your dinner links! I did a TON of freezer cooking when I was 7-8 months pregnant in preparation for after delivery. My son is now three months old, and it has been so nice to be able to just defrost a bag and dump into the crockpot. Now, because of limited prep time, I only meal plan one week out, but even weekly planning makes weeknights after work go soooo much more smoothly. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. thanks, ladies! the monthly meal plan went pretty well. i think i will continue it for awhile. there will be more prepped ahead freezer meals and built in flexibility as the year goes #2 is due at the beginning of may. however, i can already see how much easier it is to make ONE big grocery store trip sans kids or with the help of the hubby. hope ya'll have a happy new year! thanks for reading and leaving such nice comments. xo!